Hundreds of shoppers cram into Selfridges for Boxing Day sale

Hundreds of shoppers crammed into a Selfridges store in London today for the Boxing Day sale but London footfall plummeted by 67 per cent on 2019 as Covid-19 pushed shoppers online – where the average Brit has spent £247 today.   

Customers armed with umbrellas and wearing their winter jackets streamed through the fashion chain’s store on Oxford Street as the branch opened its doors to shoppers at 11am.

Meanwhile others were spotted gathering outside a JD Sports store at ‘s Bull Ring as the clothes chain also launched its Boxing Day sales.    

But footfall at shopping sites across the UK on Boxing Day up to noon was 45 per cent below the 2019 level, according to data from retail expert Springboard.

In central London, footfall was 67 per cent lower than 2019 numbers, while it was 58 per cent below 2019 in other major UK cities.

Market towns fared slightly better, seeing a 12 per cent decrease from 2019 shopping traffic, while there was only a seven per cent drop in outer London.

New coronavirus restrictions have come into force today in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which may have had an impact on the number of shoppers hitting the sales.

Footfall in Northern Ireland was 73 per cent below the 2019 level, 63 per cent lower in Wales, and almost 50 per cent lower in Scotland.

Restrictions of pushed buyers online, where shoppers plan to spend more in this year’s post-Christmas sales than they have in the last two years.

Shoppers are expected to spend an average of £247 each in the end-of-year sales – an increase of £85 on 2020 and £61 more than 2019. 

Hundreds of shoppers crammed into a Selfridges store in London today for the Boxing Day sale

Hundreds of shoppers crammed into a Selfridges store in London today for the Boxing Day sale

Despite the scenes on Oxford Street today, Boxing Day footfall plummeted by 67 per cent on 2019, according to data from retail expert Springboard

Despite the scenes on Oxford Street today, Boxing Day footfall plummeted by 67 per cent on 2019, according to data from retail expert Springboard

Lines begin to form inside  the Trafford Centre in Manchester as the Boxing Day sales begin

Lines begin to form inside  the Trafford Centre in Manchester as the Boxing Day sales begin

A large group of people begin to gather outside a JD Sports for the Boxing Day sales in Birmingham

A large group of people begin to gather outside a JD Sports for the Boxing Day sales in Birmingham

Around 30 per cent of bargain hunters have admitted they started browsing the sales on Christmas Eve, while 27 per cent will have spent some time shopping on Christmas Day, according to the latest research.

The scenes come as some of the UK’s biggest stores including Marks & Spencer, Next and John Lewis decided not to open today, giving workers a day off after a year dominated by the pandemic.

The UK’s largest toy chain, The Entertainer, will also stay shut on religious grounds, as it does every Sunday. 

Despite the drop in footfall, large queues formed outside the Trafford Centre in Manchester with shoppers waiting since 8am, while bargain hunters also lined up outside Primark in Birmingham and Zara in Bristol.

There were also queues outside Selfridges, Boots, Primark, Disney and Zara on Oxford Street in London.

Queueing outside the Disney store in Oxford Street, London to shop on her daughter’s behalf, Nic Portway from London told the PA news agency she was not planning on spending much in the sales but was happy to still go to the shops in person despite the rise in Covid cases.

She said: ‘I am not really surprised by how many people are out because we have got to get on with it, there is always going to be another variant so what do we do?

‘We can’t keep locking down every time there is a new variant otherwise everything will just stop.’

Another shopper said she only came out on Boxing Day because her planned Christmas Day online shopping at Zara fell through due to an error on the app.

The woman said: ‘I was surprised to see this many people out and about, when I walked down Oxford Circus there was hardly anyone around, but then when I arrived at Oxford Street there were big queues, all around the corners.’

Masks were worn by most shoppers on Oxford Street, whether in a queue or walking around but many of the shops were not full of people. 

Another shopper said she only came out on Boxing Day because her planned Christmas Day online shopping at Zara (pictured, on Oxford Street) fell through due to an error on the app

Another shopper said she only came out on Boxing Day because her planned Christmas Day online shopping at Zara (pictured, on Oxford Street) fell through due to an error on the app

Hundreds of shoppers stream through the doors at Selfridges in London this morning for the Boxing Day sales

Hundreds of shoppers stream through the doors at Selfridges in London this morning for the Boxing Day sales

Shoppers stream through the entrance as doors open for the start of the Boxing Day sales at Selfridges department store on Oxford Street in London

Shoppers stream through the entrance as doors open for the start of the Boxing Day sales at Selfridges department store on Oxford Street in London

People carry umbrellas and wear their coats as they wait outside JD Sports and prepare for the sales

People carry umbrellas and wear their coats as they wait outside JD Sports and prepare for the sales

People queue up outside Selfridges  on Oxford Street in London for the Boxing Day sales

People queue up outside Selfridges  on Oxford Street in London for the Boxing Day sales

Elsewhere stores including Primark, JD Sports, New Look, Zara, Selfridges, and H&M opened their doors to shoppers looking to land a festive bargain this morning.

Also among the stores set to welcome customers today are Matalan, Foot Locker, Argos and Currys PC World.

Supermarkets Tesco and Asda will also remain open for shoppers.    

And Amazon, Boots and Asos have all launched their Boxing Day sales early on their websites, with the prices of sought-after items, such as Apple AirPods, slashed.

In Manchester, a crowd of excited shoppers waited by the doors of Primark, on Market Street, ahead of its opening time at 10.30am. 

One local told the Manchester Evening News: ‘They’ve all gone into Primark – it opened up and they all piled in. There’s a queue at Selfridges as well.

‘It was quiet earlier this morning – a few people were milling around – but it’s busier now.’

The latest research, which was commissioned by Barclaycard Payments, showed that 31 per cent of shoppers will buy clothes, shoes and accessories while 25 per cent of shopper have food and drink at the top of their sales lists this year.

And savvy savers say discounted Christmas-related items, such as decorations, are close behind, with 24 per cent of shoppers looking to make savings now by preparing for Christmas 2022.

The research also found Brits will also be sales shopping with families and friends in mind, with 24 per cent planning to buy gifts for their nearest and dearest.

A fifth are shopping for deals on experiences they can share such as concert tickets, and the same number are hoping to book a discounted holiday to make up for missed trips over the past year.

Similarly, 29 per cent said they’ll be shopping for next Christmas and 22 per cent will be looking for Mother’s Day gifts.

People queue for the Selfridges sale on London's Oxford Street  as the store opens at 11am to welcome shoppers

People queue for the Selfridges sale on London’s Oxford Street  as the store opens at 11am to welcome shoppers

Shoppers make their way into a Selfridges in London's Oxford Street on Boxing Day

Shoppers make their way into a Selfridges in London’s Oxford Street on Boxing Day

Crowds of people walk along Oxford Street for the start of the Boxing Day sales despite the poor weather

Crowds of people walk along Oxford Street for the start of the Boxing Day sales despite the poor weather

Shoppers begin to queue outside Foot Locker in Bristol as the Boxing Day sales start

Shoppers begin to queue outside Foot Locker in Bristol as the Boxing Day sales start

A group of people begin to queue for JD Sports store in Leeds city centre on a cold and wet Boxing Day

A group of people begin to queue for JD Sports store in Leeds city centre on a cold and wet Boxing Day

People queue outside Lush in Bristol as the Boxing Day sales start this morning

People queue outside Lush in Bristol as the Boxing Day sales start this morning 

Posters outside a JD Sports store in Leeds confirm items will be reduced by 50 per cent today

Posters outside a JD Sports store in Leeds confirm items will be reduced by 50 per cent today

Crowds of people queue outside  Zara for the Boxing Day sales in Birmingham today

Crowds of people queue outside  Zara for the Boxing Day sales in Birmingham today

A line begins to form outside a store at the Trafford Centre in Manchester on Boxing Day

 A line begins to form outside a store at the Trafford Centre in Manchester on Boxing Day

People hit the shops along Oxford Street as stores across the UK launch their festive sales

People hit the shops along Oxford Street as stores across the UK launch their festive sales

However 47 per cent of those polled believe inflation may affect how much they buy overall, with 49 per cent of these shoppers intending to spend less than they usually would.

While Boxing Day remains the most popular day to start sales shopping, 45 per cent of those questioned said they will shop less frequently in stores over the sales period and four in 10 said they will shop online in an effort to avoid queues and crowds.

Around 34 per cent said they preferred online shopping in general, with 32 per cent saying it was more efficient and allows them to spend time with family and friends during the holidays.

Some 22 per cent are also looking to support smaller businesses and those closer to home in the sales

Harshna Cayley, Head of Online Payments, Barclaycard Payments, said: ‘The rise in spending when compared to the last two years is a reassuring sign for retailers.

‘It shows that, despite inflation increasing and worries about the new Covid-19 variant, consumers are keen to continue the tradition of sales shopping; even when some of the larger retailers are closing their physical stores on Boxing Day itself.

‘Yet, we are also becoming more conscious about the purchases we make.

‘With environmental concerns and the cost of everyday living front of mind, many Brits are seeking sustainable goods and services but also, financially planning for the year ahead by taking advantage of deals to buy items for celebrations in the New Year.’

The study also found that consumers plan to shop more sustainably, with 27 per cent looking to buy fewer ‘fast fashion’ items, and a further 26 per cent making a conscious effort to reduce spending on plastic goods.

In an effort to be more environmentally friendly, 25 per cent of those shopping slot online will also cut back on over-ordering and returning, while 20 per cent will be seeking deals with retailers that have more sustainable practices.   

Primark is among the stores that will open its doors to shoppers looking to grab a Boxing Day bargain today. (Stock image)

Primark is among the stores that will open its doors to shoppers looking to grab a Boxing Day bargain today.(Stock image)

Supermarkets including Tesco and Asda will also remain open for shoppers today. (Stock image)

Supermarkets including Tesco and Asda will also remain open for shoppers today.(Stock image)

But shops including Next and John Lewis have decided not to open, giving workers a day off. (Stock image)

But shops including Next and John Lewis have decided not to open, giving workers a day off.(Stock image) 

Marks and Spencers will also stay shut on Boxing Day, giving staff the day off after a year dominated by the pandemic. (Stock image)

Marks and Spencers will also stay shut on Boxing Day, giving staff the day off after a year dominated by the pandemic.(Stock image)

Against the backdrop of looming price increases in 2022, shoppers appear to be making the most of the opportunity to stock up on things they’ll need over the next few months, with 37 per cent planning to find items for upcoming birthdays.

Clare Bailey, Independent Retail Expert and Founder of The Retail Champion, said: ‘I’m encouraged to see that the Christmas sales are more popular than ever, despite the challenges of the past year and looming impact of inflation.

‘As one of the biggest moments in the retail calendar, it’s promising that so many people are prioritising sustainable shopping and thinking about the wider impact of their purchases.

‘Based on my conversations with retailers, I know local businesses are expecting high demand this festive sales period so I’m very pleased to see the relationship between consumers and their local shops remains strong.’   

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